Tonight, we celebrate 115 years of the University of the Philippines, founded on June 18,1908. We also welcome the arrival of it’s 22nd president to our city.
While we are all gathered here tonight to hear plans for the future of the UP system, it’s important to reach back to the past to see how we got here.
I want to take you back in time , Philippines, 1903. The Philippines was under American rule. Howard Taft was it’s 1st Civilian Governor. Under the guidance of the Americans, it was on its way to a path of self governance.
But to make this all possible, the first step was to educate Filipinos. The United States Congress established a scholarship program for Filipinos to attend school in the United States. This program, under the Pensionados Act of 1903, would hope to prepare the Philippines for self governance, and present a positive image of Filipinos to the rest of the United States. Students of the scholarship program were known as Pensionados. They would begin their academic pursuit the following year in 1904.
Also, in 1904, the Louisiana purchase exposition, was held in St. Louis Missouri. The Philippines sent a delegation, which included my great great grandfather, Ilocos Gov. Julio Agcaoili, to promote Philippine products & it’s culture. Some of the Pensionados students worked at the Philippine exhibit as waiters or assumed assistant duties.
A quarter of the initial batch of 100 would call the Chicago area home, while others were positioned in different universities from as far west as San Diego, and to the east in New York City. My great grandfather was one of those Pensionados , eventually becoming the first Filipino graduate from the Ivy League school, Cornell University, earning his degree in Civil engineering.
Back home, some of those Pensionados would be involved in the beginnings of the University Of The Philippines.
Looking back on our university’s history, we sometimes reflect on a figure, somebody that embodies the spirit of the University.
Honor and excellence.
For me, there’s one man who lived up to those ideals. His name was Fidel Segundo.
Fidel entered the university in 1913 as a pre-med student. He would later be commissioned to military school at West Point, later earning the distinction as the second Filipino graduate from West Point. Beyond West Point, he would marry my great grand aunt, Angela Agcaoili, act as one of the founders of The Philippine Army as we know today; and teach military science and tactics at U.P.
Brigadier General Fidel Segundo survived the death march, 85 miles over 6 days, with only one meal of rice during the entire journey. We have a bridge here in Chicago dedicated to those who marched on that infamous trek, a reminder of their bravery and heroism.
I want to tell you about another bridge, a bridge standing for over half a century. A bridge that connects Chicago area U.P. Alumni to the Alma Mater. That bridge is the UPAAGC, an organization that has been a bridge to serve communities & promote education. In it’s 52 year lifetime, the organization prides itself in its fundraising efforts and disbursement of aid to its recipients at the University of the Philippines. We are fortunate enough to be joined by its founders tonight, Mr. & Mrs. Ramos.
With that said, it’s now time to take a glimpse of the future for the University under the leadership of it’s 22nd president.
It is my honor to introduced to you a man who has served many government positions in the Philippines, as labor attaché in Japan, and numerous assignments in the Middle East.
A graduate of sociology, and law, former board of regents officer. An expert in the topic of labor migration. A son of Mindanao.
Ladies & gentlemen, please welcome the 22nd president of The University of the Philippines, President Angelo Jimenez.